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Rep. Barbara Lee Ilya Sheyman 10th District hopefuls split on Occupy Movement
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 08:13

10th District hopefuls split on Occupy Movement

Written by  Russell Lissau | Daily Herald

Although largely identified as a liberal effort, the Occupy Movement is viewed differently by the Democrats running for the 10th congressional district seat.

Ilya Sheyman of Waukegan voiced strong support for the protesters who have occupied parks and other public spaces in Chicago, New York City and elsewhere.

John Tree of Long Grove also backed the demonstrators, but warned they will lose public support if the protests cannot remain peaceful.

Brad Schneider of Deerfield was critical of the flag burning and violent activity seen during some protests.

Vivek Bavda of Mundelein called the demonstrators ineffective.

The four candidates spoke about the Occupy Movement and other issues during a recent joint interview at the Daily Herald's Libertyville office.

A fifth Democrat, Aloys Rutagwibira, is running a write-in campaign. He was invited to the interview session but did not attend.

The winner of the March 20 primary will face Republican incumbent Bob Dold of Kenilworth in the general election.

Sheyman figuratively embraced the Occupy protesters.

“Occupy reflects a sense of anger and frustration felt across the country that right now we have the wealthiest 400 Americans having as much wealth as the bottom 150 million,” he said.

He lauded the movement for shifting the political conversation away from the national deficit and program cuts.

“That's the conversation the Tea Party had triggered in Washington,” Sheyman said. “When we have conversations now (at candidate meetings), the first or second question now is invariably, ‘How do we restore fairness to our tax code,' (or) ‘How to we put people back to work.'”

It's now up to lawmakers to turn the energy of the Occupy protesters into legislative change, he said.

Tree said the Occupy Movement “is certainly something I support.”

“The playing field has never been more unlevel,” he said. “It is extremely tilted toward the wealthy. And this brings a voice to the level of discrimination that exists between the haves and have-nots.”

But Tree also called out people at the demonstrations who “co-mingle with peaceful activists and can devolve the situation into aggression and violence, which I absolutely oppose.”

After referring to the peaceful demonstrations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, Tree said the Occupy protesters will lose the support of the American people if they turn to violence.

“The peaceful part of it needs to be maintained,” he said.

Schneider said the Occupy protest movement “is filling a very important void.”

“I think they brought to the forefront a conversation about income inequality (and) about the whole tax code,” Schneider said. “The conversation the Tea Party started on Wall Street has spread to water coolers. We talk about it at breakfast. We talk about it at the dinner table with our kids. We talk about it in schools.”

Schneider said he'd like to see the protesters more focused. He criticized the protesters who recently disrupted operations at a port in Oakland and clashed with police and he said he was “discomforted” by the burning of U.S. flags there.

The storming of the Israeli consulate in Boston also garnered contempt from Schneider, who is Jewish, as is Sheyman.

“These are distractions from the core message of equality of opportunity, social justice and economic fairness,” Schneider said. “I think that message is critical.”

Bavda, of Mundelein, acknowledged the Occupy Movement “has made the papers,” but he had few kind words about it.

“The notion that this is widespread, that we share these concerns, I don't think it's true,” he said.

Bavda said he backs “the ideals” of the Occupy protesters but drew the line there.

“As a matter of debate or a matter of convincing the American public that they're right, I don't think they've been particularly effective,” he said.

The 10th congressional district spans portions of Lake and Northwest Cook counties.

Link to original article: Daily Herald

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